Working remotely looks like something that is here to stay in some shape or form; surveys show broad support from both employees and employers. Some companies are even considering doing away with their office completely. Technology is playing a large role here as enabler. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, including the commodity / energy trading market. As businesses ensure their employees can work safely and healthy, it is also accelerating digital transformation. In this environment, it is crucial how well your C/ETRM solution is prepared to accommodate this new paradigm. You may realize that the well-known email auto-reply message has taken on a different meaning in this COVID-19 period where, like your staff, your C/ETRM may forever and never be ‘out of office’ again.
The Corona crisis has pushed us all to working on-line. It was also a stress test, where those that relied on cloud-based solutions enjoyed minimal disruption, and those who did not yet, scrambled to provide remote access to critical applications. Initially assumed as a short-term event, the disruptive effects forced to revisit several assumptions and paradigms. Including the viability of cloud solutions, working from home, and considering doing away with offices altogether.
The commodity/energy trading world is no exception. Generally conservative and risk averse, market participants have come to realize that on-premise installations are not well-suited to quickly support remote access by staff. At the same time, there might be more appreciation for how much of their critical business already relied on communicating via the internet, thereby countering misguided concerns.
Yet, even with a cloud-based C/ETRM system no longer being doubted, it does not mean that it delivers a total solution that fits the new normal. The combination of outsourcing the C/ETRM system and having staff working remotely may raise additional needs beyond accessibility, reduction of IT support, and business continuity. In that light, when considering a cloud-based C/ETRM solution, one may also need to look at ownership, self-learning, and configuration.
The Network & Subscription Economy
The world is moving from products to services. Enabled by the Digital Age, buyers’ expectations have changed over the last several years where they have become subscribers moving from a product economy to a subscription economy. The combination of high upfront costs, the hassles of ongoing maintenance, and the frustration of technological obsolescence has also made C/ETRM system buyers move towards innovative business models based on services. Consequently – and accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis – cloud-based Software-as-a-Service C/ETRM solutions are overtaking traditional delivery software.
With “as-a-service” it is not the product that is central, but a total solution as a service to meet a specific need of customers. In the software market, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for the customer means no longer owning a perpetual license that’s paid upfront, and no on-premise equipment (software/hardware) that needs to be maintained and likely upgraded down the road. Instead software is delivered as a service, with only the need for an internet browser to access from anywhere and sold on a subscription basis with subscription terms ranging from annual to multi-year.
Already driven by tech-savvy users who grew up on digital, and combined with market demands for less costly solutions, the new normal of working remotely, makes commodity/energy trading companies look for new ways of implementation.
When a modern CTRM system, such as Pioneer Solutions’ TRMTracker, offers a high-degree of user configurability, the reliance on the vendor will reduce for a lower cost of ownership over time. Moreover, TRMTracker has always been web-based and therefore offers a true-cloud experience. Combining those two key properties enables a self-serving, rapid deployment environment.
TRMTracker.com differentiates from other C/ETRM SaaS offerings by providing a standard set of ‘enterprise-grade’ tools across the Front, Mid and Back office functions, including workflow, data import and innovative reporting capability. TRMTracker.com does not have the restrictions of preconfigured solutions. Instead, within the provided set of functionalities, customers can configure their CTRM software to fit their business from front to back office.
To support an environment of self-configuration, TRMTracker.com comes with a slew of tutorial resources, from navigation to setup and data import to report creation. It allows the remote user to read and watch how to operate the system and enables onboarding of new users through self-study for rapid system adoption. Having the tutorial resources online, provides the flexibility to fit training into busy schedules, and enables to access the system anytime / anywhere.
Even if Pioneer is engaged to do most of the configuration work and delivers training sessions, the online tutorial resources will help users to prepare and hit-the-ground running. In the process, not just implementation and training cost are reduced, but also unnecessary travel and accommodation cost.
Noteworthy here is that the system provides an innovative report creation option using its popular Excel Add-in module, thereby enabling users to create reports in a tool that they do not need training for: Excel! After creating visually rich reports, they can be deployed back into TRMTracker as they are native to the system.
The corona pandemic has provided an ‘Aha moment’ that a transition to cloud solutions having a lot more to do with overcoming cultural issues than they do with technology. In general, a large portion of the workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work. Business as usual doesn’t exist anymore as we are accepting the new reality where both trading staff and C/ETRM system may forever and never be ‘out-of-the-office’.